Christians

Tuesday Devotional: Hosea 4

Read Hosea 4bible

James 3:1

Not many of you should become teachers, my fellow believers, because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly.

Matthew 18:6

“If anyone causes one of these little ones—those who believe in me—to stumble, it would be better for them to have a large millstone hung around their neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea.

Woe to you, teachers of the law, pastors, ministers, priests, elders, deacons, Bible study leaders, missionaries, Christians.  We are given such a gift of God’s grace in Jesus Christ and His Gospel.  However, this gift brings with it tremendous responsibility and obligation to truth and to the well-being of those we interact with and, in many cases, lead.  God pronounces a judgment through Hosea that rings true today.  The leaders and ambassadors of Jesus Christ have in many ways failed.  Many churches have lost the message of Jesus and in some cases have totally traded the presence of Jesus as King of Kings and Lord of Lords for an image of a co-worker, friend, buddy, neat-guy, Jesus.

Where is obedience to His Gospel?  Where is obedience to God’s Word?  Where are self-sacrifice and humility?  Where are perseverance and the pursuit of righteousness and the active fight against the prince of this world, Satan?  Where is equality?  Where is the hunger and prayer for reconciliation as opposed to division for the sake of comfort?  Where is the unbreakable bond of marriage?  Where purity?  Where is prayer?  Where is faith?  Where is Jesus?  The message of Jesus is not easy or convenient but it is simple and true.  Why are so many people unsure about what is required of them as Christians?  Is it because they are not themselves pursuing truth in the scriptures?  Is it because they are being misled by leaders who have abandoned truth?  Is it because they are not being led at all?

It is a privilege and an honor to be called to lead someone to Christ, but have we not forgotten that there are consequences for leading them away from Him?  Repent, Teachers!  Repent, Pastors!  Repent, Priests!  Repent, Christians!  It is a gift to work alongside the Father in His work of redemption in this world but that work has clear directives that must be followed, or else.  Or else.  That sounds scary, and it should.  We are given a responsibility to shepherd, protect and care for those God has given us to disciple.  God is sovereign and this does not mean that we have to be perfect.  Far from it.  We will never be perfect. On the contrary, we will continue with our fight against sin as we disciple.  However, we are called to teach and obey a perfect covenant.  This is non-negotiable.  If we do and we make mistakes, there is grace.  If we don’t and we lead people away from Christ, there is without a doubt judgment.  Count the cost, leaders!  Are you called to lead?  Never neglect to pray for our Heavenly Father’s grace upon your endeavors.

Tuesday Devotional: Psalm 68

bible

A father of the fatherless, and a judge of the widows, is God in his holy habitation.
God setteth the solitary in families: he bringeth out those which are bound with chains: but the rebellious dwell in a dry land.
O God, when thou wentest forth before thy people, when thou didst march through the wilderness; Selah:
The earth shook, the heavens also dropped at the presence of God: even Sinai itself was moved at the presence of God, the God of Israel.
Thou, O God, didst send a plentiful rain, whereby thou didst confirm thine inheritance, when it was weary.
10 Thy congregation hath dwelt therein: thou, O God, hast prepared of thy goodness for the poor.
11 The Lord gave the word: great was the company of those that published it.

-Psalm 68:5-11

Fatherless.  Widows.  The Solitary.  Those bound with chains.  The weary.  The poor.  These groups have nothing to do with nationality or ethnicity.  These are conditions of people all over the world.  God LOVES these people.  Often the work of Christians or churches fails to do the work Jesus Christ has prepared and commanded us to do.  Christians are very busy people and churches are very busy places.  However, today too many people who have no father are left without any positive male figure in their life.  Too many widowed woman are left without emotional or financial support.  Too many people die in overcrowded prisons with no visitors, no correspondence and no hope.  Too many people are burdened and weary from overwork and stress, no one to lean on or share the burden.  Too many people have no homes, no food and no shelter, left unassisted in the hopeless world of poverty.

It is a fair statement that we as Christians and we as the Church are not doing our job.  Instead of making excuses or pointing the finger, we must repent to God and to our neighbors.  It is not good enough to have a portion of a ministry dedicated to these people. These people are our ministry.  Many people are suspicious of the gospel and the Christians that carry it.  They are angered by the hypocrisy.  They are angered by the judgment and hate.  They are angered by the lack of constructive and effective efforts to create change in neighborhoods, communities, cities and the world.  The Gospel of Jesus Christ is good news not because it helps us to get what we want.  It is the Good News because it is the final answer of hope for everyone in want.

Instead of working on how to refurbish the image of Christianity and the Church we must each turn our eyes upon Jesus and ask Him to show us each how we have failed to carry out His command to love.  The only way to resurrect the image of Christianity, to be in the crowd or”great company” of those that publish the Good News, is to refocus our attention onto God, who loves those people, and Jesus Christ, who became these people.  Our image and the world’s perception of us is not the issue.  The issue is our disobedience and our reckless mishandling of Christ’s message.  We begin to worship and honor God by loving the broken, weary, lost people. By loving these people we will again be the bearers of the best news, not only because these people need help, but because when we were in their condition, Jesus Christ helped us.